Montreal’s Miss Swing is Tap Dancing Into Her 80s

By Grover Koelpin 1 comment

I’m a preacher. I preach tap. And then I give it to my disciples to go out and spread the
gospel of tap dancing. My name is Ethel Bruneau, and I have been tap dancing for 83 years. Everybody knows me in show
business as Miss Swing. When I tap, it’s just, it’s glorious. I just have a good time. From the day one, I just loved it. I can remember I didn’t
have a pair of tap shoes, so I took some soda tops that you, from the soda top bottles, and put on the bottom of my
shoes till I got tap shoes, and that’s what I used
for taps (laughing). Well, I was 15 when I got
to tour with Cab Calloway at the beautiful Rialto
Theatre that we’re in. I just loved, you know, performing, so I worked all over Montreal,
but not only Montreal. I worked all over Canada. I teach the original traditional tap. Give me a wing. Now, instead of looking down at the floor,
Yeah? Look up and get those arms way up. (tap shoes stomping) There you go, yeah. You’re making me work, right now. OK, cool. But you’re doing this.
Yeah. And when you’re up here,
it’s like you’re flying. Broadway tap, that’s
another form of tap dancing. When you go to Broadway,
you know, the arms and here and there and this and the smiles are there, you know. Well, like us? We just get down to the
rhythm and let it fly. I call it laying down the iron, you know, talking with your feet. I’m a tap dancer
because of Ethel Bruneau. She’s a fantastic teacher because
she cares about the dance. She communicates love
with whatever she does, especially when she’s yelling at you. And she just inspires me, even
to this day, to be better. I had heart surgery, but when I woke up, I just wanted to tap dance. I was like, let me get up out of this bed. No, I don’t got time
to be laying in no bed getting needles and whatever. Let me get up and do my thing. I’m not stopping. This is the way I’m
leaving, with tap dancing. You know, I’m gonna
leave with my tap shoes.

1 Comment


Sep 9, 2018, 1:31 pm Reply

well there you go, she is still moving and teaching the history of this distinctly american form of dance, mind you I do know it draws from other percussive dance linnage from europe and africa, but as a style it come to and evolved in north america, its still evolving but there are few first handers like her left that can teach it first hand back, and though slower then used to be she can still do it, many times age is just a number

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